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Are you sure you want to quit this game? Heck, yes! I want to quit it and delete it off my computer right now – and take the cd back to the store from where it was purchased, whilst advising them not sell the game to any other poor soul.
To be quite honest, I don’t think I have played a game quite so bad. Ever. And I’ve been playing games since I was 5 years old...making that 13 years of gaming experiences. To be quite honest, this must be my first opinion of a bad product here on ciao...at least as far as I can remember!
Well, you should know if you’re here that this is an opinion on Player Manager 2000 – but I guess, and rightly so, you people are going to want to know what makes this game so awful. Or maybe not. But I have to justify those first two paragraphs, so here goes.
Some 5 years ago I purchased my first football management sim for a meagre £2.99. It was not Championship Manager, or even Sensible Soccer – it was Anco’s well kept secret – Player Manager 2. It did not contain the names of real players – and you could only start in the lower leagues, but who cared. This game got me hooked on footie managers, and I’ve played quite a few – some brilliant (okay, only Champ man gets that rating) and some not so brilliant. If you asked me to list my top five footie management games, PM2 would be in there.
It had some great quirks never again seen any other genre mate, such as the opportunity for you to actually play football on the pitch (Okay, this was a feature in Kevin Keegan’s Kick Off management on the Snes, but that game was slightly pants to be quite honest). Other features were the newspapers – if you saved the game more than five times in a season, you’re name would often end up in the paper in some kind of scandal. It was amusing, and gave a sense of reality in some small way. It just made you feel all the more involved. But enough reminiscing. This is my opinion about Player Manager 2000 – not its infinitely superior predecessor.
I purchased PM2000 because I had a yearning to resample the style of PM2. I have unfortunately mislaid the said cd of this classic, and therefore must do without. But I thought that PM2000 might offer a similar experience, and when I saw it going for £10, I wondered what there was to lose?
Since the game is two years old now, I had no problems installing. At about 70mb I had space enough, and in no time I was ready to go.
The first thing that hit me was the incredibly awful music. It’s cheesy and so, so bad that I had to turn off the speaker within seconds. I remember PM2’s music well, and although that too had been a little on the cheesy side, it had been bearable and at times could be quite decent.
The first few screens came and went – leaving no real lasting impression (apart from the awful music). Even the ageing PM2 had a far better intro than this mess. I was then presented with an options screen, offering me the chance of a new game, continue, friendly and replay. I couldn’t replay because I had no replay’s saved (d’oh) and I have no idea what the friendly was about. So I clicked away on new game and soon came to another screen, offering the chance for me to select one of four leagues (England, Scotland, Italy and Germany) to compete in and, me being me, settled for the good old English league. It seems you can mange pretty much any club in these countries - from premier/serie A to the lower leagues, which I suppose is admirable.
I had soon chosen my club and all I now had to decide was I going to be a plain old manager – or was I going to be a Player Manager. I had no hesitation. Player Manager I was to be.
On a brief look through the manual I had noticed no mention of actually playing any football. To my absolute disgust, you don’t get to participate in the matches in any shape or form(apart from being the manager of course). Now this I cannot understand. The game is called Player Manager. Therefore one would think it safe to presume that you do get to have a chance to kick the ball about. But no. It was not to be. I was beginning to get a little annoyed.
The game menu is quite horrendous. Everything about it screams amateur. It's clumsy and confusing, so much to the point that I spent quite a while messing about before realising there were drop down menus (I'm sure this could have been prevented if there hadn't been a load of buttons at the bottom). At first there seems to be quite a lot of options when browsing the drop down menus at the top of the screen – but most of these seem entirely superficial. There are a few nice touches like the opportunity to employ a faith healer – but touches like these are hardly enough to make a good game. The tactics editor is incomprehensible, and the negotiations with players over new contracts is laughable (they will NOT accept an offer if you try and offer a little less than what they ask – they just reject, reject, reject until they get their way - okay I guess that is quite realistic) and when a team bids for one of your players you can only ask for a sell on fee clause and that is about it. If you have experienced the wealth of transfer options in Champ Man or even Ultimate Soccer Manager you will soon see that in comparison PM seems very basic.
And then we move onto match day. There are three ways to view a match; via commentary, scanner or to watch it in full, glorious 3D. I decided to watch in 3D, but I was soon disappointed. The graphics are very poor – and the player AI is even worse. The ball psychics were just plain stupid (the ball bounced all over the place or it would roll to a complete stop when it really shouldn't) and the players themselves were like lumbering fools. The in match sound was awful too – the crowd silent until a goal or such like, when a nasty crackling sound would emerge through my speakers which I suppose was meant to be cheers or something. There was no way to make the action go faster either, so I had to sit through the whole thing – which was a complete pain. Especially when I was losing 3-0. Now, you might say ah this one is bitter because they did not win. Well, you might feel the same way if you saw the dreadful way in which the goals were scored. The AI is so bad it is unreal!
Next I decided to try out the commentary – hoping for champ man style antics – but no. There was a small picture of the pitch with numbers on it, and in a small screen above the pitch there was the commentary. So unnoticeable was this screen that I failed to notice when 2 goals were scored. I had greater hopes for the scanner option. Foolish I was.
The scanner is probably the strangest of the lot (not necessarily the worst) it shows a pitch with players on all moving about and you can track the players and such and view their progress. But as with the commentary, I failed to notice when goals were scored – and full time could not come soon enough.
After I lost my first match 3-0 to Leeds (after some really disgusting AI problems – the Leeds team were constantly mowing down my players with no consequence whilst my team were not allowed to touch the ball without getting a card) I decided maybe the AI was not really to blame and that I needed some new players. So I ventured into the transfer market. You have probably already guessed what’s coming next – and that is that PM’s transfer system is as bad as the rest of the game. I really fail to see how they got it so wrong, again it was just shoddy and confusing.
It’s true I’ve spent maybe 45 minutes on this game – but it is so consistently awful it does make me wonder why on earth Alex Ferguson has put his name to the franchise. It also makes me wonder how a game so good as PM2 could mutate into the horror that is PM2000. I had high hopes for it – but they were not to be I suppose. You might say I am CM bias – but this is not the case. While CM is an excellent game, I still yearn for another title that will captivate me in the same way that PM2 did. I want to be able to play along side my team, and read stories in the paper other than match reports (like in USM) and I do wonder when footie sims are going to get better 3D match engines that are enjoyable to watch. At the same time, I want a game with the depth of CM. All in all – I’m asking too much, I know. But was it too much to ask that PM2000 was a decent game? Evidently so.
I get a feeling I’ve said this somewhere before – but I will say it again.
Player Manager 2003 is probably the only football management game in which the MATCH DAY ... more
actually matters. Win or lose, you learn about the players individually and as players of your team. The new 3D engine, especially developed for the management game not only brings the skills and physical attributes of the player to the pitch faithfully but also his personality stats. The personality stats have a very visible effect on the performance of each player as you WATCH the action on the pitch. For example, you can see that a player, though he has excellent stats, tries to get rid of the ball as soon as he can. It is time for you to take ACTION. He is being hasseled by an agile opposition player, can be one of many reasons. He probably needs more support. Commentary may give you information but not the reasons. Player Manager 2003 is not about having every player name spot on or providing columns of data. It is about the relationships in a club, relationship between the manager and his players individually and vice versa. These affect the morale, confidence, consistency and host of other visible and invisible stats of the player. Player Manager then faithfully takes these realities to the pitch and you can visibly see the effects of the quality of the management.